http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2007/03/17/0317metsoldier0317a.html Soldier: Taunts lead to shooting of student By DAVID SIMPSON The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 03/17/07 Spc. Craig Perkins' uniform made him a target in Baghdad — and, he believes, again in an apartment complex near Clarkston. Perkins, who returned last summer after almost a year's duty in Iraq, shot a man outside his apartment March 9 in what he says was the culmination of months of insults by some of his neighbors from the Middle East. Renee' Hannans Henry (ENLARGE) Spc. Craig Perkins says he shot a Mideastern college student last week in self-defense. Perkins, 34, said some residents in the ethnically diverse Kristopher Woods Apartments taunted him and made spitting sounds when they saw him in uniform heading to or from National Guard duty. Now Perkins is moving. He said he did not want more conflicts. Perkins said he shot 26-year-old Tareq Ali Bualsafared in self-defense after Bualsafared and another man threatened him. He said the two men rushed toward his front door even after he fired a warning shot. Bualsafared, a college student from the United Arab Emirates, said Perkins was the aggressor. He said Perkins cursed them. Bualsafared, who was shot in the leg, said neither he nor his friend, Saleh Ali, a 17-year-old refugee from Iraq, knew anything about Perkins before he confronted them as they walked by his apartment. In interviews Friday, the accounts of Perkins and Bualsafared agreed on one detail: There were angry words about Iraq before shots were fired. Perkins moved in with his girlfriend and her son in the apartment complex south of Clarkston in the summer of 2006. He had just spent almost a year in Baghdad with the Georgia-based 48th Infantry Brigade. He served most of his time as a "ground pounder" — a soldier who traveled in Bradley armored vehicles, conducting patrols and manning observation posts in Baghdad. His Bradley once hit an improvised explosive device, he said, filling the vehicle with smoke. His company was spared combat deaths during his tour, he said, but after his return he was horrified to learn from CNN that an Army friend had been kidnapped and beheaded. In the Clarkston area, Perkins joined a community heavily populated by refugees of violent conflicts around the world. He quickly noticed attire and customs he had seen in Baghdad. He said he had no animosity for his Middle Eastern neighbors in Clarkston. "I've never been a prejudiced person," he said. He noted he is a black man with a white girlfriend. He said he has white and American Indian ancestors. But he said he could feel the animosity when he walked by his Middle Eastern neighbors in his Guard uniform. Women and older men tended to be polite, but the younger men were hostile, he said. On many occasions, he said, he received signs of disrespect he knew from Iraq. Men made exaggerated spitting noises, and "they would raise their shoe at me to show me the bottom of their feet, or they would take off their shoe and wave it at me." Perkins said that before last week's shooting, he had never seen Bualsafared or Ali, neither of whom lived in the apartment complex. But he believes others helped prod the men to come to his apartment looking for a fight. In a telephone interview, Bualsafared said he and Ali were simply out for a walk with two women when they passed through Perkins' apartment complex. He and Ali told police Perkins came out of his apartment and confronted them for allegedly looking at him or his girlfriend. "How would I know he was a soldier? I didn't know that until he told me before he shot me," said Bualsafared, a former DeKalb Technical College student who said he was visiting friends in Clarkston on spring break from his current studies at Penn State University. Perkins, however, said a group of three men and a woman originally walked by him as he walked his girlfriend and her son to their car. He said he could hear people muttering obscenities and saying "there he is." Perkins said he locked his girlfriend and her child in the car and went to get his gun. Both he and Bualsafared agree the group then left the area. Perkins said two men returned and rushed him; Bualsafared said he and Ali were leaving in separate cars, but Ali stopped and got out when Perkins cursed at him. In an argument that followed, Perkins said, he yelled "Soldier in the U.S. Army." Bualsafared said Perkins said, "I'm a soldier in the U.S. Army, I just came from Iraq," and Ali angrily replied, "I'm from Iraq." Perkins said Ali said something about being an Iraqi and said he wasn't afraid of Perkins' .45 caliber automatic pistol. Bualsafared said Perkins then fired. Perkins said he warned the men to stop and fired a warning shot, but they ran toward him until he fired several shots. He said Bualsafared made it to his front steps, a few feet from his door. Bualsafared said the men were in the parking lot when Perkins shot him. DeKalb police spokesman Michael Payne said a detective's report showed blood was found "just outside" Perkins' door. Police at the scene arrested Perkins and charged him with aggravated assault. But after about 15 hours in jail, he was released when a magistrate's judge declined to sign a criminal warrant. Perkins is not now charged with a crime, Payne said. On Thursday night, Ali was arrested by DeKalb police for criminal trespass, DeKalb jail records show. The arrest was apparently based on a complaint that he should not have been in Perkins' apartment complex at the time of the incident. Perkins said he also obtained temporary court orders to keep the men away from him. Bualsafared had not been charged Friday, he said. He said he spent a night in the hospital but was walking on his wounded leg. He was staying with a friend in Athens and planned to return soon to Penn State. Yusof Burke, spokesman for the North Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he had been asked to look into the incident on behalf of the Arab men. He said they felt "unjustly accused." Burke said he was unaware of Perkins' complaints about rude behavior by other Arab men in his apartment complex. "It would be a shame if it did happen that way," Burke said. "If there's tensions like that, we'd definitely like to get involved to see what we can do to help the situation." For his part, Perkins said he will not return to his girlfriend's apartment, to avoid another conflict. He is temporarily living with his mother in Sandy Springs, near his part-time job as a cook at a comedy club. He and his girlfriend plan to move to another apartment in the Clarkston area next month. And he has volunteered to go back to Iraq. He said joining the National Guard helped him straighten out after a series of scrapes with the law as a young man. "I wear my values around my neck," he said, fingering his dog tags and breaking into tears. "Before, I didn't have any values." Staff writer Anna Varela contributed to this article. Sounds like a good shoot, should placed his shots a bit better and skipped the warning shot especially in an Apt complex.